Working evenings with a three-year-old at home?

  1. Hello, all! I have a question for ya'. A girlfriend of mine who is graduating with me in a couple of weeks has a dilemma. She has been offered a job at the hospital that she wants to work at, but they have mostly twelve-hour shifts, and she may be required to rotate days and evenings, and work at least e/o weekend. She has a three year old daughter and is a single mom, with no help from the father at all. No family nearby to help babysit. This hospital does not offer day care/night care facilities (being constructed, but not available for a year or two). Her daughter is in day care, but the center closes at 5:30pm. I've suggested she get a babysitter or two to depend on, but obviously this creates problems, such as: how does the child get from day care to babysitter at 5:30 if mom has to work until 7 or later? Any suggestions? I'm trying to help her, but don't know where to look or how to start. Also, just an aside, but have any of you guys been 'discriminated' against because you were a single parent? She was told at an interview that SICU may not be appropriate for her because she has a daughter (the schedule is as mentioned above with the 12hr shifts and all) and it was suggested that she think about Med-Surg or clinic work. She balked at the idea, saying that why should she work in a place she doesn't want to work in simply because she's a single mom? It's not her fault the bio-father is a loser, or that her family lives far away. Suggestions, anyone? Thanks for your input!
    Last edit by NICU_Nurse on Aug 28, '03
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  2. 22 Comments

  3. by   canoehead
    I think, though I am not sure, that it is illegal to ask if she has kids, definitely to ask if she is married, at an interview.

    She will need to line up backup babysitters anyway, maybe in searching for them she will find someone she feels will do a good job for her ALL day. As far as finding someone to pick up her child at day care, if you pay them they will come. I don't think this issue should sway her from her dream job, although it sounds like they will not be forgiving if she needs to leave early with childcare problems.

    Remember, she just has to swing it until the daycare centre opens, then her headaches and costs will go down tremendously.
  4. by   CareerRN
    Please forgive me for what I am about to say, but it has to be said. Sarcasm in this reply will be apparent.


    Tell your friend, "welcome to the wonderful world of nursing".

    A world where working 12 hours midnight shifts for new or less senior nurses is more the rule than the exception. A world where it is common knowledge that every other weekend will be required and a lot of major holidays as well.

    Why is it only now that she is figuring this out after pursuing nursing for a few years? She should have had this thought out a long time ago.

    If she has suffered from a recent break up within the last month or so from the biological father then I might be able to understand her dilemma. If not there is no way of understanding this at all.

    Now with all that said. Does she have any family or close friends around she can enlist to help her out? How about you? Can you watch her child some of the time? She will probably have to find at least 3 people to count on, because the same person probably will not live their life around her schedule all the time.

    Maybe the clinic or another job will have to do until she finds the help she needs and can count on them. She will always have to have an emergency back up plan in place if something unexpected comes up.

    Maybe she can find other single moms in the same boat and get together with them and trade off services.
  5. by   nurs4kids
    I work 12hr nights and have 1 & 2 yr olds. Hubby also works nights and goes to school in the day. I AM lucky enough to be near family, but even family doesn't want the full-time babysitting job. My hubby's aunt is on disability from a nervous breakdown 7+ years ago. I pay her to keep my kids. This took some serious guts for me at first. Although she's fine now (prozac), knowing her past kept me in constant fear. I watched every little thing for the first year or so, criticized her (in my mind) far more than I would have a daycare worker. My kids worship her and I have grown to trust her as much as a mother can trust someone else with their child. I actually think, in many aspects, she's better with them than I am (patience, gets down on their level), but she's not quite as tough in the discipline arena as I'd like.

    Anyhow, my point is that your friend CAN do it, but she's got to get out there and find someone she can trust. When you have someone at night, you have to pay them a differential (just as you are paid one) for the inconvenience. My sitter stays with my kids for the entire 72 hrs that I work (3 straight days). Keeps them at her house one night (also my hubby's grandmother's house) and at our house the next two. When they are there, I go there to spend time with the kids before work..when they're here, I have time before sleep and then again before work. Daycare in this area ranges from $65 - $85 per week (some of the doctor/lawyer saturated areas are $125/wk). That's for about 60 hrs of available daycare. I pay my sitter $50 per day (that's for two kids) and I provide diapers, etc.

    So, it CAN be done, but it requires trust and patience.

    Good luck to your friend!!
  6. by   NICU_Nurse
    CareerRN:

    I must say that I am baffled at exactly WHY you felt that those things just HAD to be said? First of all, she originally planned to work in the ER here where she techs after graduation, and was told by the manager that they could arrange 8hour shifts for her upon graduation to accommodate her schedule. The hospital system that she and I will both be working for is relatively flexible and does not lock you in permanantly to a certain type of shift or number of hours because they realize that one set of circumstances does not always apply to all situations. You asked why is it only now that she is 'figuring this out after pursuing nursing for a few years'? She ISN'T. She realized that this may be a concern, but hoped that it wouldn't be. She left her husband six months ago because he was abusive; she is in the middle of a divorce right now, and he is completely uninterested in doing anything but attempting to make her feel like crap for pursuing her career and leaving him. Perhaps unlike you, who may forsee the future and possibly would have known that he would not take any responsibility as far as child raising is concerned, she didn't because she, to be honest, had way too much going on to predict every potential setback. During the last few months, it has been a struggle for her to complete her nursing education, without which she has no future and no chance of properly raising her daughter on her own. As far as family or close friends, her father is dying of terminal metastasized cancer and her parents live about four hours away from here. Her mother is busy taking care of her father and also dealing with a troubled sister, who has dumped her own child into their home because she, too, is uninterested in being a parent. Close friends? I'm it, and as much as I would love to help, and certainly will whenever I am able, we are graduating at the same time. After a short orientation, I will begin a night-shift preceptorship at a hospital down the street (same system, different hospital). Obviously, our schedules will be opposite and difficult, if not impossible, to bring together in any helpful way. Furthermore, she lives almost an hour away from my home, making it inconvenient for both of us. She has her daughter in day care, which closes at 5:40 or 6:00 in the evening. She has never had a babysitter for her child, and I suppose I was wondering how one goes about FINDING ONE in the first place. I have looked in the phone book, and there doesn't seem to be a registry, etc. that we can call. What would be ideal is a child care center that offers round-the-clock care, but I'm not sure if those even exist. I have no children, and am at a lack of ideas for her, which is why I posted here. I figured that a number of visitors to this site have children, and have had to find a way to manage the same or a similar situation. What I was not anticipating was a poster who would suggest that she should be BLAMED or criticized for 'not having thought of it in the first place.' I suppose that's MY 'Welcome to the Real World of Nursing'. Nice place.

  7. by   CareerRN
    I had to ask the questions. It still does not actually add up even with her circumstances. She has to plan for things like this.

    Maybe she needs to move back closer to home and her old support system of family and friends. Maybe she will have to wait to get things in order before she seeks a job in a hospital.

    There is one other place I can think of where she might find a lead on child care. Almost every hospital has a bulletin board with things for sale and such. I have noticed from time to time that some have baby sitting services advertised.

    Unfortunately, the reality here is that she might have to settle for something less than what she wants for now. It is very hard for a new grade or employee to get the magic hours she needs in any hospital. 3rd shift is very common for new people and every other weekend is the norm. Another thing to remember is what happens when she has to stay over on her shift. This can happen quite a bit. Maybe home care would be a better option for her.

    If she has not gotten her ducks in a row in 6 months knowing this was coming, then it might be awhile for her to sort things out. Closer to home with family and old friends might actually be the place for her.

    In a year or two when she has things in a better focus she can try this again.


    Working conditions and conditions of employment related to hospital nursing is a hard reality to face.

    She can also check the local news paper and supermarket BBs for a baby sitter.
  8. by   prmenrs
    the average person could not foresee w/o a crystal ball. I. for one would like to CONGRATULATE her for continuing her education through some rather extrordinary circumstances.

    It IS very hard to be a single mom w/a small child and work full time. I had to do it @ a time when I had been a nurse for many years and knew how to BE a nurse (but not a Mom). Oh, and the 2 y/o I was adopting had "Special Needs".

    Now that we've [hopefully] had our "discussion", could we please try to give her some constructive advise/problems solving/and SUPPORT!!

    One resource I found helpful was the YWCA Childcare referral in San Diego. Obviusly, I don't know if there is one where you live, but check and see.

    Because my son had a lot of appts during the week, I worked out a schedule of Fri, Sat, Sunday NIGHTS ( ) yuck!; I'd take him to the sitter Fri night, pick-up on Mon AM. That worked for me, but it was VERY expensive!!.

    She is going to have to look for options: neighbors, other moms @ day care, ads on bulletin boards @ school. She should also have a lawyer try and get some $$ out of the sperm donor--I mean the father. When she goes to look @ a day care, perhaps you could go w/her as an extra set of eyes and ears. What I looked for was how comfortable my son was in the place--if he was glued to me, it was not a choice. If he was comfortable, and just started playing with the other kids, it was on the list.

    You WILL have to look for a place that will take a kid for what you're going to need. I think family day cares are more flexible than a preschool.

    I am proud of BOTH of you, and wish the very best as you begin your careers. As a fellow nurse, WELCOME!
  9. by   nurs4kids
    prmenrs,
    wonderful advice!! please forgive me, but you know me

    ahem...uh, career nurse,
    Who blessed you with a foretold future??? I'm willing to bet you either don't have a child or have been blessed to have the cushion of a supportive family nearby (like myself). How dare you cast judgement at this woman who has OBVIOUSLY busted her arse to get through nursing school so she CAN provide for her child. Nursing school was hard enough, for me, without kids. I can only imagine the sacrifices nursing school places on family and children. So, let's see...by your comments, this new nurse has only one option for now. Forget about your dreams, forget about the nursing career you've worked so hard to obtain. Jump on welfare, we'll support you because you have hit a bumpy spot in the road of life. I hope you realize just how ridiculous your advice sounds. Nah, I'm 99% sure you don't have kids. A mom would have NEVER chastised this woman for her attempt to better her child's future.

    Kristie,
    I'm proud of you, girl and I'm damn proud of your friend. Nursing is not as "family destroying" as SOME may make it seem. It is tough, because of the 24/7/365 nature of the business, but tell your friend to keep her head up and keep pushing forward. With determination and strength, anything is possible. She'll find a good babysitter, she'll be a damn good nurse and she'll be stronger in the end. Like prme said, it's heart-wrenching to leave your child with the babysitter at the beginning of that three day stretch, but one thing for sure...they ALWAYS know who mom is and mom is always #1 in their life.

    Good luck to both of you. IT IS MORE THAN POSSIBLE, SHE WILL DO IT!!!
  10. by   Jenny P
    I have to admit that I was upset with CareerRN's advice/ answer when I read it last night, but because of the comment about the sarcasm, I let it go. Now reading CareerRN's remarks tonight, I must comment on them: CareerRN, you've never been a mother. And I don't think you've ever had a parent terminally ill, nor have you ever been through an abusive relationship and a divorce. It is so easy to pass judgment on someone who's life is different than your own; but it is very hard to walk in those same shoes. I don't see that anyone gave you permission to judge this girl; nor did anyone ask you to "ask the questions" or "add up even with her circumstances." You appointed yourself judge, jury, and prosecuter when a simple piece of advice were all that was warrented.

    I didn't have to raise a child by myself; nor did I have to finish nursing school while going through all of the heartache this girl must be going through. Kristi, give this girl a hug for me. She will need a shoulder to lean on at times. I hope that her workplace is friendly and supportive, and will accomodate her because she is a new nurse and a single mother.

    I had a cousin who found a young college student who lived with her and cared for her child while she was working instead of paying rent (she was kind of like a part-time Nanny). Of course, she would have to find someone she could absolutely trust with both her child and her home in order to do that.
  11. by   prmenrs
    Getting a younger nursing student to room w/her might be one of her options.

    If she works nights, she WILL have to sleep in the day time. BUT..it might work out better, at least on week days. She comes home in the am, gets Jr. to preschool, sleeps, picks-up Jr., goes home. If she has someone spending the night, it's a little easier. If she works 8 hour nights, all the better.

    Once, when I was working the aforementioned horrible schedule, I forgot to fill out the request schedule. OOPs. The shift charge nurse filled it out for me. It was a lovely schedule, just not one I could work d/t son's various therapies, etc. I told her, apologized for not filling it out, and she replied, "It's not the hospital's problem you are adopting a handicapped child."

    I calmly picked my jaw up off the floor, next am went in to see the nurse manager, who began hyperventilating a bit, but by that night, my schedule was back to the horrid one I needed!

    So support is there, and she may find that no matter what job she takes, there will probably be other nurses in the same boat--and that's a big help right there.

    As I said before, All the Best!!

    p.s. hope no one was offended by the "sperm donor" remark!!
  12. by   ICUBecky
    I just have to share this quote by CareerRN posted on another thread ("mandatory overtime"...in general nursing discussion...go there it is fun to see her comments), b/c after i read what she just replied on this post i had to laugh. this is her response to another poster on that thread that said something like "this is the price we pay for our calling" in regards to hours and holidays worked by mothers. here it is:


    < "Oh My God!!! It is people who have attitudes like yours
    that have helped to make, or should I say trapped, the
    nursing profession in the mid evil ages. This calling you
    refer and many others refer to is an excuse and a means
    which is used against us every day.">

    i find it kind of funny...that she seems to be saying that, on this post, that we have to live with our hours and working conditions b/c we became nurses. on the other post she seems to be saying that, any of us who thinks this way, are ignorant and fools in some very scarring remarks.

    i don't get you CareerRN...which is it? seems you like to pick a fight with a lot of other nurses.

    sorry, i can't help you out with the baby sitting issue. don't have children and have never been in this position. but, i just HAD to post this quote.
  13. by   Enright
    I want to pipe up on the side of career RN. I think the new nurse in question has a very unrealistic vision of being able to have the specific job she wants and the ideal care arrangement for her child. Something may have to give and obviously it is the job. She thinks things are difficult now? Wait until she needs to work OT or has an inevitable day care crisis. Co-workers, even those that like her, may start to feel like "enough already".

    I'd suggest widening the scope of search and maybe looking at 8 hour shift jobs. Night care is a beast...when I lived in Omaha the local chapter of Birthright was an amazing source for info on 24/7 kid care. It is hard to find and expensive.

    Regardless of tone, I think Career RN was just trying to be pragmatic. I think the shift to more 12 hour shifts is a real problem, not only for parents, but for aging nurses. I hope this new nurse finds what she needs for her career and child.
  14. by   rdhdnrs
    I have to agree with Becky; CareerRN, you sound burned out on nursing. I'm wondering if you are in a job you're tired of or what??

    Okay, the care situation. When I was a new grad, my husband was asked to get out because of his drug use, fooling around, etc. I have two little girls and I was working nights. I went to one of my instructors at the University where I did my BSN and asked for recommendations for nursing students to babysit. I was very lucky and found a senior student who came in and spent the night with my kids and would get them ready for school in the mornings. They loved her. I had very few crises but the times I did, she was able to get one of her fellow students to cover.
    I felt good about this situation because I trusted the instructor as a judge of character, and it turned out well. Even when I went to days, I still found nursing students to babysit. You might want to try this route.

    Good luck, don't give up!!! You don't have to give up your dream just because the ex is a jerk!!!

    Lisa

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